Almost all cremations done in the US are done at crematoriums where bodies are put inside an incinerator. The only open-air cremation service in the US is the non-profit Crestone End-Of-Life Project, which does a handful of open-air cremations every year in Crestone, Colorado.

But my question is, are there specific state laws that prohibit open-air funerals everywhere else in the country? Maybe environmental laws, fire safety laws, or body desecration laws?

  • A fairly comprehensive review of state laws on the subject can be found at the link, although the particular issue that you address is not discussed. There is some form of regulation in almost every state. stimmel-law.com/en/articles/…
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


I'll give you the situation in Washington, which is probably similar to the situation elsewhere. RCW 68.50.130 say that you have to follow the law in disposing of a body. To perform a cremation, you need a license. The regulations established by the Department of Licensing say that cremations take place in a crematory, and the facility must be licensed. We turn to the definition of crematory, which is

a building or area of a building that houses one or more cremation chambers, to be used for the cremation of human remains

This applies to hydrolysis facilities as well, but not composting facilities (which can simply be "real property").

  • Can you find the legal situation in more states? I’m particularly interested in New Jersey. Jul 5, 2020 at 15:19
  • NJ requires a permit for cremation only available to a funeral home director. I suspect that their licensing does not allow open air pyre style cremation. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/new-jersey-home-funeral-laws.html
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:08
  • I struggled with NJ, and I don't see a legal basis for prohibiting a pyre, but it could be buried in obscure administrative codes and notices given to licensed funeral home directors.
    – user6726
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .